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To identify attention profiles at 7 and 13 years, and transitions in attention profiles over time in children born very preterm (VP; <30 weeks’ gestation) and full term (FT), and examine predictors of attention profiles and transitions.
Participants were 167 VP and 60 FT children, evaluated on profiles across five attention domains (selective, shifting and divided attention, processing speed, and behavioral attention) at 7 and 13 years using latent profile analyses. Transitions in profiles were assessed with contingency tables. For VP children, biological and social risk factors were tested as predictors with a multinomial logistic regression.
At 7 and 13 years, three distinct profiles of attentional functioning were identified. VP children were 2–3 times more likely to show poorer attention profiles compared with FT children. Transition patterns between 7 and 13 years were stable average, stable low, improving, and declining attention. VP children were two times less likely to have a stable average attention pattern and three times more likely to have stable low or improving attention patterns compared with FT children. Groups did not differ in declining attention patterns. For VP children, brain abnormalities on neonatal MRI and greater social risk at 7 years predicted stable low or changing attention patterns over time.
VP children show greater variability in attention profiles and transition patterns than FT children, with almost half of the VP children showing adverse attention patterns over time. Early brain pathology and social environment are markers for attentional functioning.
Objectives: Preterm children demonstrate deficits in executive functions including inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility; however, their goal setting abilities (planning, organization, strategic reasoning) remain unclear. This study compared goal setting abilities between very preterm (VP: <30 weeks/<1250 grams) and term born controls during late childhood. Additionally, early risk factors (neonatal brain abnormalities, medical complications, and sex) were examined in relationship to goal setting outcomes within the VP group. Methods: Participants included 177 VP and 61 full-term born control children aged 13 years. Goal setting was assessed using several measures of planning, organization, and strategic reasoning. Parents also completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function. Regression models were performed to compare groups, with secondary analyses adjusting for potential confounders (sex and social risk), and excluding children with major neurosensory impairment and/or IQ<70. Within the VP group, regression models were performed to examine the relationship between brain abnormalities, medical complications, and sex, on goal setting scores. Results: The VP group demonstrated a clear pattern of impairment and inefficiency across goal setting measures, consistent with parental report, compared with their full-term born peers. Within the VP group, moderate/severe brain abnormalities on neonatal MRI predicted adverse goal setting outcomes at 13. Conclusions: Goal setting difficulties are a significant area of concern in VP children during late childhood. These difficulties are associated with neonatal brain abnormalities, and are likely to have functional consequences academically, socially and vocationally. (JINS, 2018, 24, 372–381)
Non-right handedness (NRH) is reportedly more common in very preterm (VPT; <32 weeks’ gestation) children compared with term-born peers, but it is unclear whether neonatal brain injury or altered brain morphology and microstructure underpins NRH in this population. Given that NRH has been inconsistently reported to be associated with cognitive and motor difficulties, this study aimed to examine associations between handedness and neurodevelopmental outcomes in VPT 7-year-olds. Furthermore, the relationship between neonatal brain injury and integrity of motor tracts (corpus callosum and corticospinal tract) with handedness at age 7 years in VPT children was explored. One hundred seventy-five VPT and 69 term-born children completed neuropsychological and motor assessments and a measure of handedness at 7 years’ corrected age. At term-equivalent age, brain injury on MRI was assessed and diffusion tensor measures were obtained for the corpus callosum and posterior limb of the internal capsule. There was little evidence of stronger NRH in the VPT group compared with term controls (regression coefficient [b] −1.95, 95% confidence interval [−5.67, 1.77]). Poorer academic and working memory outcomes were associated with stronger NRH in the VPT group. While there was little evidence that neonatal unilateral brain injury was associated with stronger NRH, increased area and fractional anisotropy of the corpus callosum splenium were predictive of stronger NRH in the VPT group. VPT birth may alter the relationship between handedness and academic outcomes, and neonatal corpus callosum integrity predicts hand preference in VPT children at school age. (JINS, 2015, 21, 610–621)
The aim of this study was to evaluate attention difficulties in a contemporary geographic cohort of adolescents born extremely preterm (EP, <28 weeks’ gestation) or extremely low birth weight (ELBW, birth weight <1000 g). The EP/ELBW group included 228 adolescents (mean age = 17.0 years) born in Victoria, Australia in 1991 and 1992. The control group were 166 adolescents (mean age = 17.4 years) born of normal birth weight (birth weight >2499 g) who were recruited in the newborn period and matched to the EP/ELBW group on date of birth, gender, language spoken and health insurance status. Participants were assessed on measures of selective, sustained, and executive (shift and divided) attention, and parents and participants completed behavioral reports. The EP/ELBW group performed more poorly across tests of selective and executive attention, had greater rates of clinically significant difficulties compared with the control group, and also had greater behavioral attention problems as reported by parents. Neonatal risk factors were weakly associated with attention outcomes. In conclusion, higher rates of attention impairments are observed in individuals born EP/ELBW well into adolescence and may have consequences for their transition to adulthood. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–12)
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